28 May 2018

On Prepping

'Prepping', or preparing for the next disaster or the ultimate apocalypse, is an activity that a lot of Amateur Radio operators (gleefully) participate in. Actually, it's more like the Preppers are participating in Amateur Radio. Either way, there's a huge overlap between ham radio and prepping. I hang out on the margins of this activity because I understand the importance of being prepared for likely disaster situations (note the emphasis on likely). Also, if 23 years in the Army teaches you anything it's to be prepared. And there's no organization better at prepping than the United States Army. It's an obsession with them. Lastly, there's a bit of perverse pleasure that comes from facing a disaster, even a small one like a power outage, with all the supplies and systems in place that allows you to look around your small castle and say, "I've got this".

I read a lot about prepping, follow a few forums devoted to prepping, watch a lot of YouTube videos on prepping and even participate in disaster prepping exercises through my local ARES group. Too much of what you read or see on-line is focused in the wrong direction for the average citizen. It seems most of the 'fantasy' preppers talk about bugging out to some remote retreat where they've tunneled into the side of a mountain, installed biological and radiological filters and blast-proof doors, laid in a 20 year supply of food and water, run hydroponic gardens and have a wonderful time riding out the apocalypse. They actually made a how-to movie about it:

But let's get real. Most of the likely disasters we face will be triggered by Mother Nature - either weather or earthquake. Hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, lightning strikes, snow storms or just run-of-the-mill flooding routinely impacts millions each year. Those of you (un)lucky enough to live in southern California face annual wildfire risks, plus every time San Andreas burps you're running into the streets hoping it isn't The Big One.

And then there's the impact of poorly maintained infrastructure. In August 2003 drooping power lines on a residential street in Ohio shorted out on tree branches, causing a generating station in East Lake, Ohio, to go off-line. A cascading series of events ended up shutting down power to huge sections of  New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island and the province of Ontario. Think about it. Some poorly maintained power lines on a residential street ended up cutting power to millions of people across the northeastern US and Canada.

While these are not full apocalypse situations, it shows that the S*** does Hit The Fan more than most people realize, and that it can happen without warning.

So how do you prepare for the most likely scenario you may face? Well rather than blather on and on I'm just going to let Scott Conover, AC2FV from Long Island tell you how it should be done. In May 2016 Scott posted an excellent, easy to watch and easy to follow video on just what it takes to survive a 'likely scenario' event. Using Super Storm Sandy as the defining example, Scott goes through the impact the storm had on Long Island, the survival scenarios it generated and how he mitigated them.

I strongly recommend this video to everyone concerned about prepping, even if you have zero interest in communications or ham radio. It is the most level-headed discussion of the topic of real-world prepping and response that I've seen. Watch and learn:

W8BYH out

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